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Research article2003Peer reviewed

Assessment of fresh and frozen-thawed boar semen using an Annexin-V assay: a new method of evaluating sperm membrane integrity

Pena FJ, Johannisson A, Wallgren M, Rodriguez-Martinez H


Detection of early changes in the sperm plasma membrane during cryopreservation is of utmost importance when designing freezing protocols. The present study evaluated the ability of an, Annexin-V binding assay to detect early changes in sperm membrane integrity using flow cytometry (FC) in two different portions of the boar ejaculate, in cryopreserved semen. Using a split sample: design, sperm motility was evaluated in fresh (controls) and frozen-thawed (FT) samples, both subjectively and by means of a computer-assisted motility assessment (CASA) system, while membrane integrity was assessed using Annexin-V,(A) and propidium iodide (PI) staining in spermatozoa derived from the first sperm-rich fraction (Portion I) or the remaining ejaculate (Portion II). The A/PI technique revealed four sperm subpopulations, two PI negative (either A-, (alive) or A+ (apoptotic)); and two PI positive (dead cells), either A+ (dead, late apoptotic or early necrotic cells) or A- (dead, late necrotic cells). Significant differences were found between the two portions of the ejaculate in the fresh (control) and FT samples. In the fresh controls, significantly more live, nonapoptotic spermatozoa, (A-/PI-) were present in Portion I than in Portion II (P < 0.001). Although apoptotic spermatozoa were detected in both semen portions, the frequency of live, early apoptotic (A+/PI-) cells was significantly lower in Portion I than in Portion II (P < 0.001). Irrespective of the ejaculate portion considered, freezing and thawing significantly decreased the mean percentages of live spermatozoa (P < 0.01), and dramatically increased the percentages of apoptotic or early necrotic cells (P < 0.01), but not of early apoptotic cells (N.S.). The latter finding might suggest that apoptotic changes due to cryopreservation using the procedures applied in this trial are transient and lead to cell death. In conclusion, the Annexin-V binding assay was able to detect deleterious changes in the sperm plasma membrane at an earlier point than PI staining, thus representing a novel approach to investigating membrane integrity in this species. The finding that fewer spermatozoa in Portion I of the ejaculate showed early apoptosis post-freezing, suggests boar spermatozoa in this portion of the seminal plasma are less sensitive to the stress induced by cryopreservation. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved

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2003, Volume: 60, number: 4, pages: 677-689 Publisher: ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC

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